Litecoin (LTC) has dropped more than 15% in the past 10 days, and is now down ~80% from the record high posted in December. The LTC market cap is the 7th largest among coins tracked by bravenewcoin.com, at US$4.34 billion, with exchange-traded volume of US$253 million in the past 24 hours.
Among the 17 coins with a market cap greater than US$1 billion, LTC sits in the middle of the pack in terms of gains and losses over the past month. The Pearson Coefficient of LTC and BTC has been 0.89 over the past three months, suggesting that both coins are highly correlated. Stellar (XLM) surpassed LTC in market cap earlier this month on a string of bullish news.
There have also been several LTC related announcements recently. Reddit has decided to re-enable crypto payments, and will likely include LTC with Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH). Crypto payments had been disabled after network fees made transactions for Reddit Gold purchases uneconomical. Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian has been a strong supporter of cryptocurrencies as a digital store of value.
The exchange Gemini is rumored to be adding more crypto pairs, including LTC, which may then allow for futures trading at the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). Gemini currently enables trading the BTC, ETH, and Zcash (ZEC) pairs. ZEC experienced an immediate 45% jump on the Gemini listing announcement. Aside from futures trading, the CBOE also has a pending Bitcoin ETF application and has strongly supported the addition of future crypto financial products.
The UK exchange Crypto Facilities launched an LTC futures contract in late June. Crypto Facilities also provides the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) with index data for BTC and ETH. Terry Duffy, CME CEO, has recently said that the CME won’t add more crypto futures anytime soon.
On July 10th, Charlie Lee, creator of LTC, announced the Singapore-based LTC Foundation and Token Pay entered into a strategic partnership to buy a stake in a German bank, WEG Bank AG. Lee expects to receive a board position at the bank and influence further crypto adoption. The partnership came about due to a lack of reliable crypto banking processors.
On July 12th, the retail trading app Robinhood added LTC for commission-free trading. Robinhood is available to residents in 17 U.S. states. With four million accounts created in the past year, Robinhood has surpassed E-Trade in size, and was recently valued at US$1.3 billion.
Earlier this week, the HTC Corporation announced LTC support for their upcoming HTC Exodus blockchain smartphone. Charlie Lee will also be an advisor on the project, along with CEO and co-founder of Lightning Labs, Elizabeth Stark. Early access for the phone will be available in Q3 of this year.
Turning to the network, the number of transactions per day has stabilized and is currently around 20,000-30,000. Average transaction fees have continued to decline since May. LTC has consistently confirmed more transactions per day than Zcash, Dash, Monero, and Doge, with cheaper average transaction fees when compared to Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Monero. A US$99 million transaction cleared in 2.5 minutes during April, with an associated fee of US$0.40.
The LTC 30-day Kalichkin network value to transactions (NVT) ratio has been increasing throughout the year. While the ratio can be used to assess a network’s relative utility over time, it’s difficult to compare between coins which use different transaction types. Further, a downward trending NVT correlates with increasing prices whereas an increasing NVT typically correlates with decreasing prices.
Difficulty and hashrate have decreased since record highs in May and June, which is most likely fueled by a decrease in mining profitability. Mining LTC is currently the least profitable it has ever been. Of the 84 million LTC to ever exist, 68.67% has been mined. The next block reward halving is set for August 2019.
Turning to developer activity, Litecoin Core v0.16.2 was released this week with minor improvements to the network, while the LTC project on GitHub has had a cumulative 749 commits over the past year. Most coins use the developer community of GitHub, where files are saved in folders called “repositories” or “repos,” and changes to these files are recorded with “commits.” Although commits represent quantity and not necessarily quality, a higher number of commits can signify higher dev activity.
Exchange traded volume during the past 24 hours has been predominantly led by the Bitcoin (BTC), Tether (USDT), and U.S. Dollar (USD) pairs. The majority of trading has occurred on OKEX, GDAX, Bitfinex, and Binance. Overall, the influence of Asian pairs is minimal with Korean Won (KRW) and Japanese Yen (JPY) representing less than 1% of total volume. Bithumb, one of Korea’s largest exchanges, re-opened deposits and withdrawals this week.
LTC continues its downward slide, and is now entering an area of previous resistance established in September 2018. As a trend flattens out and consolidates, analysts look for signs of trend continuation or reversal. The status of an existing or emerging trend can be determined using exponential moving averages (EMAs), Pitchforks, Ichimoku Cloud, and divergences. Further background information on the technical indicators discussed below can be found here.
On the two-day chart, the 50/200EMAs have crossed bearishly for the first time since May 2016. The market in 2017 was supported by the two-day 50EMA or the one day 100EMA. Much of the extended bullish rally throughout 2017 occurred in the setting of a Coinbase exchange listing as well as protocol improvements like SegWit.
The two day chart also has a long standing bearish Pitchfork (PF) with anchor points in December, March, and May. Despite remaining in the top half of the PF, another test of the median line (ML) near US$59 appears inevitable, as price will continually attempt to return to the ML throughout any given trend. The PF remains valid until a candle closes above the top diagonal resistance line.
Turning to the Ichimoku Cloud, four metrics are used to determine if a trend exists; the current price in relation to the Cloud, the color of the Cloud (red for bearish, green for bullish), the Tenkan (T) and Kijun (K) cross, and the Lagging Span. The best entry always occurs when most of the signals flip from bearish to bullish, or vice versa.
The status of the current Cloud metrics on the daily time frame with singled settings (10/30/60/30) for quicker signals are bearish; price is below Cloud, Cloud is bearish, TK cross is recently bearish, and Lagging Span is below Cloud and in price. A traditional long entry will not trigger until price is above the Cloud. A recent bearish TK cross has resulted in a 10% drop in price. A bearish TK cross below the Cloud is a strong indication of bearish continuation.
The status of the Cloud metrics on the daily time frame with doubled settings (20/60/120/30) for more accurate signals are bearish; price is below Cloud, the Cloud is bearish, the TK cross is bearish, and the Lagging Span is below the Cloud and touching the current price. Again, a traditional long entry will not trigger until price is above the Cloud.
The position of the TK lines show a growing C-Clamp, which can be thought of as a bullish divergence, and suggests oversold conditions. If price does not make lower lows, a target of ~US$128 is likely. The most aggressive entry for this long trade would occur after a bullish TK cross.
On the LTC/BTC pair, the Cloud metrics on the daily chart, with doubled settings, is also distinctly bearish but severely oversold. The pair has been in freefall since breaking support near 0.0155BTC, which also represented a bearish Tenkan bounce and 50/200EMA death cross (not shown). A bullish RSI divergence has also formed as price made a lower low but RSI did not. This indicates that bearish momentum is losing steam and a bullish reversal has a higher probability than bearish continuation. The ratio has also hit a longstanding support near 0.01BTC (not shown).
LTC continues to quietly work as a fast and cheap medium of exchange. However, volatility suggests LTC is far from being a stable store of value or unit of account. Continued LTC adoption announcements for both trading and utility will likely have a lagging bullish effect throughout the remainder of the year. Despite selling off all of his LTC in December, Charlie Lee continues to be the figurehead of LTC, and his involvement in both a bank and a smartphone can only help.
Technicals for the LTC/USD pair suggests a sustained bearish trend with a high likelihood of continuation. A high volume wick to ~US$60 would be the best case scenario and indicate definite bearish exhaustion. The alternative is a steady decline. Once a firm bottom has been established, a target of US$128 is likely.